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Thousands sign petition to name NEC coronavirus hospital ‘NHS Seacole’

An online petition to name the Birmingham NEC Nightingale hospital after a pioneering nurse has gained more than 140,000 signatures.

Jamaican-Scottish nurse Mary Seacole tended to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in the mid-19th century.

Petition organisers say naming the hospital after her would be a "major step forward in highlighting the contribution of BAME staff".

“Naming Mary Seacole as part of the fight against COVID-19 would be a major step forward highlighting the contribution of BAME staff who have worked tirelessly for the NHS since its creation in 1948 and highlight the collective spirit of the country to fight the pandemic and reduce the impact of infection.”

– Patrick Vernon OBE, petition organiser
The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Credit: PA

The National Exhibition Centre is expected to open in the coming weeks to help cope with pressures on the health service caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said building new hospitals in "very short order" was an "extraordinary action".

He said he had "given the go-ahead" to more hospitals because this problem is "not just confined to London" and he said there would be “further such hospitals to follow”.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know